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On-air news gaff causes a stir in community

By Salome Modebadze
Friday, August 10
TV9’s news bulletin about the Georgian-Russian war in August 2008 caused confrontations among Georgian society. Recollecting the details of the tragic events during the fourth anniversary of the war on August 8, a TV9 journalist said during a 12 pm news program that the military hostilities between Ossetian separatists and the Georgian army were launched on August 7, 2008 and when Russia officially engaged in the war on August 8, it “legally” brought its army units and military hardware into the region.

Emphasizing that TV9 does not share this opinion, the news team apologized at a 3 pm news bulletin for the mistake they made on-air and explained that they had read the text prepared by GHN news agency about the August War chronicles without proofreading it.

Apologizing for their accidental mistake that caused misunderstanding, GHN explained that the word “legally” should have been put in brackets.

On the same day in Poti, President Mikheil Saakashvili focused on the mistake of “the Georgian Dream’s” TV9, accusing it of sowing uncertainty and confusion about who started the war, Saakashvili said “only an idiot can ask a question: who started this war?”

Calling the Russian President a “patron” of the Georgian Dream, President Saakashvili criticized TV9 (referring to the Georgian Dream) for its morning bulletin about Russia’s “legal” activities in Georgia.

Saakashvili said in a democratic country like Georgia, everyone can think and say anything “disgusting” but also feel the “common pain” and express respect towards fallen compatriots. He said even if a person hates the government he/she should not justify aggression against own country and in attempt of its destruction.

Although the word “legal” used by TV9 was highly discouraged by Rustavi 2 and Imedi TV evening news programs, it turned out that the latter had used the same text a day earlier during an 11 pm news bulletin.

Keti Kashakashvili journalist of Imedi TV had read the same text with the same formulation as the live piece during an 11 pm news bulletin a day earlier. Mate Kirvalidze, the news bulletin editor for the company said Kashakashvili is sorry for her mistake she made on August 7 and left the job. Kirvalidze also stressed that what has happen live was just a mistake and has nothing in common with the TV Company’s position.

Tamar Kordzaia Executive Director of Journalist Ethics explained to The Messenger that the two TV companies had made an ethical mistake by misrepresenting the information because “preciseness is an ethical standard” as well as the right of authorship. Welcoming the TV companies for admitting their mistakes, Kordzaia explained that by neglecting the source they had used, they also violated the rights of the GHN agency’s authorship which is also an ethical problem.

Kordaia also said that although the Georgian President has the freedom of expression, he should not cause differences between the media outlets. She said if Saakashvili was not aware of Imedi’s case at the time when he focused on TV9, it would be ethical from his administration to offer the relevant explanations.